Anyone who knows me knows I do love to bake pies. I have my own favorites: peach, apple, cherry, lemon meringue, pumpkin, chocolate, peanut butter, and vegetable/meat quiches. On my to-do list is finding time to experiment with some other varieties.
If I lived near The American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, I would beg Beth M. Howard for a job at the Pitchfork Pie Stand, where she has made peace with herself through making people happy with her pies. In fact, she has written a book chronicling her journey into pie making: Making Piece, a Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie. It just sounds like so much fun! She and her team have actually traveled to third world countries to teach pie-baking.
I saw a recipe a few months ago in a magazine for "hand pies" so I've tired my "hand" at it a couple of times recently. I just use the same pie crust recipe I always use, and so far I've only used an apple filling. I have found I can get about 6 hand pies from one pie crust. These are great when you want to just take a little treat to someone.
One time I was asked to make 5 cherry pies for a Valentine's Day appreciation dinner our small group put on to thank our church's youth group leaders. That was really easy since my pie crust recipe makes 5 crusts, and I just needed to make 2 batches.
I have made the pumpkin pies for our family Thanksgiving celebrations for years. I just use the recipe on the Libbey's pumpkin can and double it to make four large pies.
I've posted the pie crust recipe before, but it is the one I use exclusively, so here it is again. My aunt Mary Ann gave me this recipe back in 1967, 45 years ago, so why would I change now? Sometimes I even make the pie crust one day, divide into 5 equal sized balls, wrap individually and either refrigerate or freeze them. When ready to use, I let them come to room temperature before I start rolling them out.
Never-Fail Pie Crust
5 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add shortening and work into the flour with two knives until course, about the size of peas, (or use a pie crust cutting tool.) Into a one cup liquid measuring cup, break one egg and beat slightly with a fork. Add vinegar, and then enough cold water to make one cup liquid. Add this to the flour/shortening mixture and mix into a good consistency for rolling. Note: In recent years I have been using a very finely ground flour...like cake flour. I have found that I can eliminate 1/2 cup of shortening when I use the fine flour. Roll the crusts out one at a time on a floured surface, being careful not to over work the dough.
For a great apple pie, here's what I do:
First I have my pie crusts ready and the pie plate lined with the crust. Then I take 6-7 medium sized granny smith apples, peel, core, and slice thinly. As the apples are being prepared, I put them in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. To all the sliced apples, add 3/4-1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Toss gently and fill crust-lined pie pan. If I remember, I might add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter on top of the apple mixture. Then I cover with the top crust. I take my kitchen scissors and cut the perimeter of the crusts so they just barely hang over the pie plate and they are even. Then I carefully tuck the upper crust in under the bottom crust, then flute the edges with my fingers. Then I make about 6 small slits in the upper crust. Lastly, I brush on a very thin coat of milk on the upper crust and sprinkle the whole top with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake the pie for about 50 minutes at 400℉.
There is no question that I fully agree with Beth Howard, The world needs more pie! How about you?